Saturday, January 14, 2006

"Sorry to Discharge My Weapon in the Station House, Frank..."

TBSATIO Anthro & Econ has a real good post about the growing sophistication of popular television shows. One of the commenters references a great NYT Magazine piece from last year by Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad Is Good for You. Anthro & Econ excerpt: Prime time TV was not about continuities. It was about episodes. The world that just kept starting over. Time didn't happen. Events didn't accumulate. There were no critical paths, no path dependencies, no differences that ever made a difference over the long term. Typically, people didn't age. They didn't change. They didn't grow. Outside the narrow narrative particulars, prime time dramas were timeless and placeless. It was as if all the characters had a really terrible case of amnesia. Clearly, this is changing. Shows like 24 are really unthinkable without a knowledge of the larger, overarching narrative. Lost the same. I am noticing that while House can be watched without a knowledge of narrative continuity, it makes a vast difference when this is in place. Even with the cheat sheets from Entertainment Weekly (to say nothing of the love notes), Lost remains daunting.

The NYT piece above talks quite a bit about the pivotal role of Hill Street Blues (possibly my all-time favorite show) in this evolution, and I was quite happy the other day when I realized that HSB: Season One is finally coming out on DVD.

"...but the rascal caught me with my flanks exposed."


Post a Comment

<< Home